Don’t look to the elec­tors to up­end Trump vic­tory

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Calvin Wood­ward and Rachel La Corte

wash­ing­ton » There’s more hus­tle than hope be­hind an ef­fort to de­rail Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

Repub­li­can elec­tors are be­ing swamped with pleas to buck tra­di­tion and cast bal­lots for some­one else at meet­ings across the coun­try Mon­day that are on course to rat­ify Trump as the win­ner. AP in­ter­views with more than 330 elec­tors from both par­ties found lit­tle ap­petite for a re­volt.

Whether they like Trump or not, and some plainly don’t, scores of the Repub­li­cans cho­sen to cast votes in the state­cap­i­tal meet­ings told AP they feel bound by his­tory, duty, party loy­alty or the law to rub­ber-stamp their state’s re­sults and make him pres­i­dent. Ap­peals num­ber­ing in the tens of thou­sands — drown­ing in­boxes, ring­ing cell­phones, stuff­ing home and of­fice mail­boxes with ac­tual hand­writ­ten letters — have not swayed them.

The in­ter­views found wide­spread Demo­cratic ag­gra­va­tion with the elec­toral process but lit­tle ex­pec­ta­tion that the rush of anti-Trump ma­neu­ver­ing can stop him. For that to hap­pen, Repub­li­can-ap­pointed elec­tors would have to stage an un­prece­dented de­fec­tion.

Still, peo­ple go­ing to the typ­i­cally ho­hum elec­toral gath­er­ings have been drawn into the rough-and-tum­ble of campaign-sea­son pol­i­tics. Repub­li­cans are be­ing be­seeched to re­volt in a tor­rent of lob­by­ing, cen­tered on the ar­gu­ments that Clin­ton won the pop­u­lar vote and that Trump is un­suited to the pres­i­dency. Most of it is fall­ing on deaf ears, but it has also led to some ac­quain­tances be­ing made across the great po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

“Let me give you the to­tal as of right now: 48,324 e-mails about my role as an elec­tor,” said Brian Wes­trate, a small­busi­ness owner and GOP district chair­man in Fall Creek, Wisc. “I have a Twit­ter de­bate with a for­mer porn star from Cal­i­for­nia ask­ing me to change my vote. It’s been fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Even a leader of the anti-Trump ef­fort, Bret Chi­afalo of Everett, Wash., calls it a “los­ing bet” — but one he says the repub­lic’s founders would want him to make. “I be­lieve that Don­ald Trump is a unique dan­ger to our coun­try and the Found­ing Fa­thers put the Elec­toral Col­lege in place to, among other things, stop that from hap­pen­ing,” said Chi­afalo, 38, an Xbox net­work en­gi­neer who backed Bernie San­ders in the Demo­cratic pri­maries.

It takes 270 elec­toral votes to make a pres­i­dent. De­spite los­ing the na­tional pop­u­lar vote, Trump won enough states to to­tal 306 elec­toral votes. He would need to see three dozen fall away for him to lose his ma­jor­ity. Only one Repub­li­can elec­tor told AP he won’t vote for Trump.

Over the sweep of his­tory, so-called faith­less elec­tors — those who vote for some­one other than their state’s pop­u­lar-vote win­ner — have been ex­cep­tion­ally rare.

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